EPIC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Dredging/Oil Spill Case)

EPIC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Dredging/Oil Spill Case)

1999

We forced the Army Corp of Engineers to do additional analysis of the risks of an oil spill while dredging Humboldt Bay. The project ultimately was completed. On September 6, 1999, in the process of deepening and widening shipping channels through Humboldt Bay, the dredging ship, Bean Stuyvesant, ruptured its oil tank and dumped more than 2,000 gallons of oil just outside the bays narrow entrance. The resulting oil slicks killed thousands of birds and other wildlife, including those listed as threatened and endangered under state and federal law – species such as Marbled Murrelets, Western Snowy Plovers and California Brown Pelicans. The spill migrated into estuaries, fouled over 40 miles of pristine North Coast beaches and forced the closure of Clam Beach, a popular recreation area.

On October 22, 1999, EPIC and the Center for Biological Diversity sought and obtained a temporary restraining order, halting dredging operations until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had reevaluated the project. This reevaluation was required by the National Environmental Policy Act as a result of the oil spills and consequent impacts on the fragile Humboldt Bay environment. After a 10-day shutdown, the Corps responded with a set of additional mitigation measures aimed at cleaning up the current spill and avoiding future mistakes.